Jones faces stiff opposition in final run
By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector
Sunday, May 6, 2018
U.S. Rep. Walter Jones has sounded the alarm about the nation’s $21 trillion debt for more than two decades.
Jones, 75, a Republican from Farmville, often talks about how the United States’ debt had dropped to $5.5 trillion in 2000. It was a result of “an era of fiscal responsibility” brought about by Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives in 1994, when he was first elected.
The discipline that won hard-fought victories has since evaporated, the congressman said, and a “deficits don’t matter mentality” has consumed many in Washington. The nation’s debt is creating national security issues, and it will harm future economic growth, he said.
Jones is seeking what he says will be his last term representing the 17 counties that make up the 3rd Congressional District. Scott Dacey and Phil Law, the two Republicans seeking to oust Jones from the seat he’s held 24 years, say his votes against the recent tax cuts and other budgetary items go against the best interests of his constituents.
They accuse Jones of disloyalty to President Trump and the people of eastern North Carolina, and if one of them wins Tuesday’s primary, he likely will go on to take Jones’ seat as no Democrat filed to run in the November general election. Polls open across the district at 6:30 a.m.
“There are opportunities to cut the size of government, and he is doing nothing to meet that goal,” said Dacey, 55, a two-term Craven County commissioner who has worked as a lobbyist and maintains a partnership in a governmental relations firm.
Everytime Jones has voted against his fellow Republicans, whether it’s for tax reform or budget, its a scar eastern North Carolinians must bear, Dacey said.
Dacey and Law both say they are the ally President Trump needs in Congress, criticizing Jones for voting against the president’s tax reform legislation that was approved in December.
“I know Rep. Jones voted against the tax bill because he assumed it would raise the debt because it would lower tax receipts,” said Law, 35, a information technology manager, who served in the United States Marine Corps. “It’s been shown it will increase employment, increase wages, will bring revenue from overseas.” With more businesses operating and more people working, tax receipts will actually increase, Law said.
Too many economists have said the growth needed to replace the lost tax revenue won’t happen, at least not over the period of time needed, Jones said.
“The growing debt, I think, indirectly influences economic growth,” Jones said. “The debt and the interest on the debt becomes an international issue because we have to borrow money from China and other countries.” It’s not in the nation’s interest to borrow money from a potential adversary, like China, he said. He also believes if the United States continues what he calls “out-of-control spending” other countries will lose faith in the nation.
Jones said reports that in less than 10 years the nation will spend more paying interest on the debt than its spends on national defense.
Jones said while he was disappointed that President Trump signed the $2.1 trillion budget, he was heartened to hear him address the issue of deficit spending.
“In fairness to President Trump he reluctantly signed it but said ‘I don’t want to sign this; I’m going to, but I’m not going to sign another.”
If Jones was truly serious about reducing debt he would introduce legislation addressing entitlement reform, Dacey said. He also would not have voted against an amendment to this year’s budget that would have cut nearly $400 million from Amtrak’s budget, Dacey said.
Jones has announced this is his last campaign and if he is re-elected, this will be his last term.
“I think if I should be lucky enough to go back on another term there are issues and things I want to continue to work on,” he said. Along with tackling deficit spending and the national debt, Jones will continue efforts to withdraw the nation’s forces from Afghanistan.
“There are always local issues,” he said. “The coast of North Carolina is primarily in the district and there is always the issues of making sure we get the money for dredging the inlets, beach renourishment. Issues involving our commercial fishermen.”
It’s unlikely Jones will make much headway, Dacey said, because he’s angered so many Republicans because of his voting record.
Dacey said if elected, his No. 1 job will be “trying to repair the relationship the people of eastern North Carolina have with other members of the House of Representatives with whom Walter Jones has been serving with and voting against time after time after time.”
Law said along with learning the ropes, coalition building with like-minded representatives will be his first job in Congress.
“It’s so when I do have legislation I want I can have their support,” he said. Immigration will be one of his first pieces of legislation.
“We are seeing real time the invasion of illegal immigrants at our southern border. It is something direly needed,” Law said. “We have to secure our southern border.”
Partisanship and the dissatisfaction the American people express when they see Congress seems to stall on legislation has grown yearly since the election of President Obama in 2008.
Dacey said Obama’s handling of the Affordable Care Act was one trigger because Republicans felt they were left out of the process. However, the greater reason is because Congress reflects the nation.
“I think Congress, particularly in the House, is reflecting the demands of the constituents,” Dacey said. “I think as a nation we are going through a process of self-selection where folks with ideologically similar views are moving nearer to each other.”
He said reports from fivethirtyeight.com, a website that uses opinion poll analysis to tell political stories, indicate redistricting only plays about 17 percent in that self-selection.
Jones said partisanship comes from the increase in political spending by political action groups.
“If you take out a large percentage of the money, you can’t take it all out, you’d have less ads, the majority of which are false. With less misleading ads you’d probably have more of an ability to compromise when elections are over,” Jones said.
He is currently part of a lawsuit that is seeks to challenge an earlier court ruling that allows super PACs to spend unlimited amounts of money and to keep their donors’ identities secret.
“I think the American people are looking for Congress to find a common thread,” Jones said. There isn’t a common thread on every issue, he said, but where there it representatives should move on it.
Like Dacey, Law believes actions of the Obama administration created the current climate in Congress.
Like Jones, Law said Congress should look for areas of agreement.
““I think we need to reconvene and identify simple issues we can agree on and start there,” Law said. Border security, accountability from Veterans Affairs and a properly funded military are places to start.
Contact Ginger Livingston at email@example.com and 329-9570.
Scott Dacey, Walter Jones and Phil Law recently discussed the issues of offshore drilling, gun violence and why they are the best candidate for the 3rd Congressional District.
Why are you the best candidate?
Dacey: Serving two terms at as Craven County commissioner, and on regional boards focusing on military, mental health and economic development, Dacey said he understand the concerns of eastern North Carolina residents.
“I have worked in Washington, D.C., and have an intimate understanding of the way Congress works and the way the needs of eastern North Carolina have been neglected and the way to address them as we move forward,” Dacey said.
Jones: “I’ve had the privilege to serve the 3rd District for over 20 years and I think if I should be lucky enough to go back for another term there are issues and things I want to continue to work on.”
Law: As the only military veteran, he has first-hand knowledge of the challenges and needs of the region’s active duty personnel and veterans, he said.
“I do project management, where I bring groups together working toward a common goal. I am a broker, a mediator, a sales person. I think that is something we desperately need in DC,” Law said.
Do you support offshore drilling?
Dacey: “I believe our nation’s energy independence is important for national security,” he said. “If it can be demonstrated that activity off our shores can be done in a reasonable and safe way I would be willing to support looking into it.”
Jones: He opposes offshore drilling. The first bill he introduced in Congress was to prevent the federal government from mandating offshore drilling and allowing states to control the decision.
“It makes more sense for the legislature in Raleigh and the governor, if they want to have a debate, to be the ones who should do it,” he said.
Law: “I think we are pretty far off on making decisions about that because we still haven’t identified any economically viable pockets of resources off our coast,” he said. “I think we should have an ‘all of the above approach’ toward energy independence so we are not buying oil from places that may not be our friends.”
How can Congress address gun violence?
Dacey: “Congress has to look to its communities,” he said. “I think that is what any member of congress ought to do. Identify how the concerns and needs of their citizens ought to be addressed.”
When told Pitt County County Board of Commissioners is seeking state or federal grants to pay for school resource officers, he said he doesn’t think he would support making the money available.
“I do not believe the federal government is the solution to all ills. I believe these are issues that are community based and solutions should be based in the community,” he said. “I don’t want to have our federal government involving itself in educational responsibilities any more than it currently is and probably should be drawn back more than it currently is today.”
He does support encouraging retiring military personnel to pursue careers in teaching because their training would help them deal with security issues.
Jones: “I think the biggest cause of school violence, violence itself, is primarily mental health issues,” he said. A House select committee should be created to examine gun violence.
“If you want to deal with a problem as deep as an issue as gun violence you should take six, seven months and look at it. You can’t do it in 10 days,” he said.
Decisions related to public education are best left to counties and states, Jones said. That is why he, along with other House conservatives, voted against a bill in march that would have expanded the federal government’s role is school safety.
Law: “It’s not gun violence, that’s the problem. I think as a country we have a respect and moral issue. We don’t respect each other, we don’t respect life.”
Address: New Bern
Profession: Political lobbyist, real-estate developer
Experience: Two-term Craven County commissioner
Profession: U.S. congressman
Experience: N.C. House of Representatives, U.S. House of Representatives
Profession: Information technology manager
Experience: U.S. Marine Corps
Visit this story on reflector.com for other reports on the 3rd District race.